Down in Odessa, Texas, dinner isn't the only thing you can get by drive-thru -- so is church! Starting this Sunday, March 22, a pastor is announcing a new service from the parking lot. It's one of the many creative ideas congregations are trying to keep their church families safe and worshipping.
In a Facebook announcement, the Christian Church of Odessa said this new "Drive-In Worship" would give people the opportunity to stay in their cars and tune in to a radio station to the live worship and message. "We can sing, pray, and celebrate (with honks!) that God is with us. Hygienic communion will be offered at your window. The worship will be on our Facebook Livestream, and we encourage you to stay home and participate in this way if that is best for you." Together as a board and pastor team, they met and decided that they didn't want to give up in-person gatherings, but they also want to be "good neighbors, responsible citizens, and honor the guidelines from the CDC and health professionals."
It's a creative solution -- one a lot of churches should consider replicating! Everyone has a parking lot, and pastors can either crank up the speakers, use Facebook Live, or even try some shortwave FM transmitters. The technology is out there -- and so is the resourcefulness to make it happen. People can still congregate in vehicles on the church property, praying and singing together. And maybe you don't pass the offering plate, but you give families an opportunity to make a contribution on the way out. That way, churches, which are critical partners in the response to any natural disaster, can continue to minister to the growing numbers of people in need.
And, as I've been telling our friends in the White House, that's vital. Because, as we all know, the church is the government's partner in ministering and helping the community. In fact, the administration is looking to partner more with the churches in this response -- whether that's delivering food or medicine. They know that the church is a critical part of serving the vulnerable, but right now, health comes first.
To those of you who wonder if the government and CDC are in cahoots to keep churches from meeting, I assure you they aren't. If I thought anyone was trying to infringe on our First Amendment rights with these gathering guidelines, trust me. I'd be at the front of the line taking issue with it. But in spite of the virus, there are still ways to meet, minister, and be in compliance. And the Christian Church of Odessa -- along with many others -- is leading the way!